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  • Writer's pictureA.H. Plotts

Operation Beachcomber

One woman's quest to conquer the coast, one beach at a time!

One of my earliest pandemic projects was to visit every beach along California's coast, dip my toes in the water and find a small rock as a token of my achievement. Then many of the beaches were closed and I went onto other things, like pandemic gardening (which I'll talk about in later posts). Today marked the resurrection of Operation Beachcomber, starting with Sunset State Beach, nestled between Monterey and Santa Cruz along the Monterey Bay peninsula.

From a distance, the Monterey and Santa Cruz shorelines look like one long beach. People have walked this part of the coast by combining inland and beach trekking: I haven't attempted this myself but now that I know there are resources for planning such a trip I may have to give it a try.

Sunset Beach, located practically halfway between Monterey and Santa Cruz cities, is a long stretch of light-colored sand and is perfect for beach strolling, jogging and power walking. What I always look for in a walking beach is firm and flat sand close to the water. Sunset Beach has miles of this. The beach sits below a high bluff lined with some beautiful houses with super envious views. Parts of the bluff are green with trees and the invasive-but-colorful icicle plant, casting a nice contrast with the beige sand of the shore.

One particularly nice surprise was the number of different and rare birds that we found while walking along Sunset Beach. I've become an avid bird watcher, post pandemic, and quite familiar with many of the common species we see along the coast. At Sunset Beach, we identified four different bird species, including two that we had not seen before and according to Merlin, are rare: marbled godwits and forster's terns.

Here are some of the godwits stitching up the loose fabric of the shore with their needle-like beaks!

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